Friday, June 10, 2016

Consider the seagulls sailing overhead, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns.

Hagia Sophia, holy wisdom

Every achievement rots away and perishes, and with it goes its author. Happy the man who meditates on wisdom, and reasons with good sense, who studies her ways in his heart, and ponders her secrets. He pursues her like a hunter, and lies in wait by her path; he peeps in at her windows, and listens at her doors; he lodges close to her house, and fixes his peg in her walls; he pitches his tent at her side, and lodges in an excellent lodging; he set his children in her shade, and camps beneath her branches; he is sheltered by her from the heat, and in her glory he makes his home. Whoever fears the Lord will act like this, and whoever grasps the Law will obtain wisdom. She will come to meet him like a mother, and receive him like a virgin bride. She will give him the bread of understanding to eat, and the water of wisdom to drink. He will lean on her and will not fall, he will rely on her and be not put to shame. He will find happiness and a crown of joy; he will inherit an everlasting name. Fools will not gain possession of her, nor will sinners set eyes on her. She stands remote from pride, and liars cannot call her to mind. Praise is unseemly in a sinner’s mouth, since it has not been put there by the Lord. For praise should only be uttered in wisdom, and the Lord himself then prompts it. Ecclesiastics 14:20–15:10

Knowing its full worth and purpose, we can no longer fear adversity, we have found prosperity where there was poverty, peace and joy have sprung out of the very midst of chaos. –Bill Wilson

The thing about ancient cities is that they force the question of time and purpose. In a way unlike mountain streams crashing through verdant forests do not. 

I dragged poor Mary Anne up more stairs that one can imagine yesterday. Stairs that were beautifully crafted hundreds, even thousands of years ago.

And I reflect on the nature of stuff. Of achievements. Of vast civilizations.  Of sweeping skyscrapers with pulsing light murals scratching a pale blue sky. Or the small child curled up against the wall, with a small crumpled cup holding a few coins. Or the golden ochre and ruby red spices and teas heaped high. The Spice Route. The Silk Road. And the Bosphorus down below rippling a line of division and unity at the same glittering moment. For three thousand years.

Or the long pilgrimage in the same direction of a single mere soul.

What has happened in my life of everlastingness in the two years since I last stood on this spot and considered? Since I turned the shot of me in the Blue Mosque into my background page and I look at it again and again every day and sometimes I wonder.

 Clicking through my journal from two years ago, so many moments and so miles ago I asked same question about pursuing wisdom. Still. Yet. Again.

Again and again. And I am afraid that I sometimes echo old world-weary Pontius Pilate, “What is truth?” Five times a day a plaintive cry calls out to remind us to pursue her.

But where is she to be found?

Bill Wilson answers that it is through suffering that we find enough humility to enter the portals of that New World. How privileged we are to understand so well the divine paradox that strength rises from weakness, that humiliation goes before resurrection; that pain is not only the price but the very touchstone of spiritual rebirth.

May I not grow weary. May I shake this hopelessness, and grasp the Law and obtain wisdom. And wear the crown of joy.